Sunday, August 19, 2012

Critical Review of Melpomene's Tears by Jonas Hyde

Please note that this is more in the style of a critical analysis as opposed to your typical reader review.

I finished this book in a few hours. Then, I went back and read it again. Hyde’s style completely baffles me. I feel that I should really write two reviews for this collection. Throughout this review, I go back and forth. With almost every noteworthy good, there’s also a “yeah, but” or vice versa. On one hand, I found myself boasting about a few of the poems. On the other hand, I felt like I was reading someone’s journal.

Melpomene’s Tears definitely has a medieval feel to it, as you will often find words like “nous”, “ain”, and some apostrophe words like “ne’er”, “’twas”, and “tho’”.

Okay, truth is, I’m struggling to write this review. I will say it’s worth the buy. Yes, go ahead and download it. Now onwards to my thoughts…

His content was great. His narrative poem (poems that tell a story) Lament for Lady Beth was one of my favorites. It was twisted, and I really enjoyed the story. Hyde went to great lengths to make sure the rhyming scheme (ABABCBCDCDD) was kept intact throughout all twenty-five stanzas. That is very impressive. However, his meter was all over the place. His stanzas went something like this:
Stanza 1: 11, 6, 10, 7, 6, 6, 7, 9, 8, 8, 21/
Stanza 2: 9, 9, 15, 12, 10, 12, 12, 11, 8, 10, 19/
Stanza 3: 8, 13, 8, 9, 8, 9, 8, 7, 16/
Stanza 4: 10, 5, 11, 9, 8, 19, 11, 12, 9, 14, 12

Yes, I went through and counted out every syllable (aka the meter) for the first 15 stanzas. There was no meter. In a lot of cases, I’m okay with not having any meter, except as you can see from the stanzas above, the general flow of the work was all over the place. If you tried to read it out loud, which I did, you’d fall all over yourself because his scattered meter won’t let you fall into any steady pace in this particular piece.

That being said, the story stuck with me. It stuck with me in a way a Grimm’s fairytale would. I just had that sort of feel to it.

My favorite story was probably The Bounty. This was also a narrative poem, and it also stuck to a rigid rhyme scheme (ABBA). This time the meter, though not really definitive, was regular… meaning it had a “beat” to it. As in most of the poems in this collection, The Bounty had a narrator. As it was only a few pages long, I can’t say much about the actual story without giving it away, but I loved the emotional joys and tragedy of it all.

The reason I am so conflicted about this review is there were definitely some moments that were getting under my skin. There were several overused words. By the end, I felt if I’d read the words “ain” and “nous” one more time, I’d have to buy this guy a medieval thesaurus and give it to him. It was also relatively depressing. However, it was very personal, and you could definitely feel that. This seemed like it should have been very cathartic for Hyde. Having said that, I don’t think Hyde played to his strengths throughout the collection. I would have been much happier getting a collection of just his narrative works. While I could totally get on board with what style he was going for, sometimes it seemed like he couldn’t make up his mind, his words were often unnecessarily inverted, and thoughts were left incomplete. Though, I think a lot of that was fixed in his narrative poetry.

Overall, I have to give this 3-stars. There were some great lines in it, like “for words further/ would only waste a moment and a breath”. I found myself really falling for some of his phrases. But, on the same hand, I think that “for further words” would have flowed a lot better without losing his style or meaning. This was the case in a lot of places. But, the content itself connected me to the author’s innermost grief. The content of the narratives could very well be likened to Grimm’s Fairytales.  

The main reason I give this 3-stars is because I feel that this is not the height of Hyde’s skill and talent. I would happily give this a 5-star review just so others would buy it, but this is not Hyde’s 5-star work. I would be very anxious to see more… much more… from Jonas Hyde.

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